Children aged under 5 years who are overweight

Prevalence of weight-for-height in children aged 0–59 months defined as above +2 standard deviations of the WHO Child Growth Standards median


Number of children aged 0–59 months who are overweight.


Total number of children aged 0–59 months who were measured.


Age, place of residence, sex, socioeconomic status.


Percentage of children aged < 5 years who are overweight for age = (number of children aged 0–59 months whose z-score is over two standard deviations above the median weight-for-height of the WHO Child Growth Standards/total number of children aged 0–59 months who were measured) x 100.

Children’s weight and height are measured using standard technology (e.g. children under 24 months are measured lying down, while standing height is measured in children 24 months and older.

The data sources include national nutrition surveys, any other nationally representative population-based surveys with nutrition modules, and national surveillance systems.

WHO maintains the Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition, which includes population-based surveys that fulfil a set of criteria. Data are checked for validity and consistency and raw data-sets are analysed according to a standard procedure to obtain comparable results. Prevalence below and above defined cut-off points for weight-for-age, height-for-age, weight-for-height and BMI-for-age in pre-school children are presented using
z-scores based on the WHO Child Growth Standards.

A detailed description of the methodology and procedures of the database – including data sources, criteria for inclusion, data quality control and database workflow – are described in a paper published in 2003 in the International Journal of Epidemiology (de Onis M, Blössner M).

Predominant type of statistics: adjusted.


National nutrition surveys.

Population-based health surveys with nutrition modules, national surveillance systems.


This indicator is used to measure nutritional imbalance resulting in overnutrition (i.e. overweight). Child growth is internationally recognized as an important indicator of nutritional status and health in populations.

Childhood obesity is associated with a higher probability of obesity in adulthood, which can lead to a variety of disabilities and diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The risks for most noncommunicable diseases resulting from obesity depend partly on the age at onset and the duration of obesity. Obese children and adolescents are likely to suffer from both short-term and long-term health consequences, the most significant being:

  • cardiovascular diseases, mainly heart disease and stroke;
  • diabetes;
  • musculoskeletal disorders, especially osteoarthritis; and
  • cancers of the endometrium, breast and colon.

Pediatric care, Nutrition, Child health, Morbidity

World Health Organization (WHO). 2015 Global Reference List of 100 Core Health Indicators.; 2015. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/173589/1/WHO_HIS_HSI_2015.3_eng.pdf

World Health Organization. Nutrition Landscape Information System (NLIS). Country Profile Indicators: Interpretation Guide. Geneva, Switzerland; 2010. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/44397/1/9789241599955_eng.pdf

WHO. WHO Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition. Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD), Geneva, Switzerland. http://www.who.int/nutgrowthdb/en/

 

Further information and related links

A draft framework for the global monitoring of the Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition. Informal Consultation with Member States and UN Agencies on a Proposed Set of Indicators for the Global Monitoring Framework for Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition, 30 September to 1 October 2013. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2013 (Retrieved from http://www.who.int/nutrition/events/2013_consultation_indicators_globalmonitoringframework_WHO_MIYCN.pdf).

de Onis M, Blössner M. The World Health Organization Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition: methodology and applications. Int J Epidemiol 2003;32(4):518-26.

Decision WHA67(9). Maternal, infant and young child nutrition. In: Sixty-seventh World Health Assembly, Geneva, 19-24 May 2014. Resolutions and decisions, annexes. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2014 (Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA67-REC1/A67_2014_REC1-en.pdf, page 62).

Document A67/15. Maternal, infant and young child nutrition. The Global Strategy and the Comprehensive Implementation Plan. Report by the Secretariat. Sixty-seventh World Health Assembly, Geneva, 19–24 May 2014. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2014 (Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA67/A67_15-en.pdf).

Draft comprehensive global monitoring framework and targets for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, including a set of indicators. Agenda item A66/8, Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly, 20–28 May 2013. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2013 (Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA66/A66_8-en.pdf?ua=1).

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Health at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators, Paris: OECD Publishing; 2013 (Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/health_glance-2013-en).

WHO child growth standards: Length/height-for-age, weight-for-age, weight-for-length, weight-for-height and body mass index-for-age: Methods and development. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2006 (Retrieved from http://www.who.int/childgrowth/standards/technical_report/en/).

World health statistics 2014. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2014 (Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/112738/1/9789240692671_eng.pdf?ua=1).